Make Chores Fun!

Summer can be a great time to accomplish lots of extra housekeeping chores. Yardwork, cleaning out closets, and redecorating are just a few of larger household chores your family may have this summer.  Hopefully, your children already have some age appropriate chores that they are expected to do around the house. Summertime is great time for them to learn even more about the things parents do to keep a household up and running!

picmonkey

In addition to their regular chores, help them come up with some activities they can help with, or even do independently, to help out around the house this summer. For even more incentive, come up with some family friendly rewards when it’s all over.

Chore Jar:

  • Sit down as a family and come up with some creative chores. Your children may even find some fun things to do around the house like helping cook meals or planting new flowers in the yard.
  • Next, find one large empty jar. Let your children get going with some arts and crafts and decorate the jar. Find stickers, markers, or ribbon and let them make it their own!
  • Last, use some colorful scraps of paper to write down each new chore. Fold them up neatly and put them in the jar.
  • Choose one day a week that they take out a scrap of paper. That day will be their new creative chore day!
  • Once the jar is empty, reward your whole family for a job well done!

Chores can be opportunities to combine learning and fun. Find more creative ways to get your children motivated to do their chores around the house at CWIST.

 

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Have Fun Learning While Riding Your Bike!

Like any great childhood, some of my most vivid summer memories involve riding my bike. The neighborhood kids loved getting together to go for fun rides through the neighborhood and we never even thought about how much great exercise we were getting!

Taking family bike rides can be one of the most fun summer activities for kids. Not only will it get your family physically active, you can also incorporate lessons about safety and even teach your children how to read maps.

A little boy riding a bike with his shadow on a gray background

Here are two CWISTs to help you get started:

Helmet Safety:

  • First, children and parents involved will take a pledge to wear their helmets every time they’re on their bikes, even for short distances. As parents, it’s great to take any opportunity to be role models for your children.
  • Watch this video on proper helmet fit.
  • Next, just follow the steps on the Helmet Safety CWIST to make sure each family member’s helmet fits properly.

Now that you know you and your family will be safe on your bike ride, it’s time to have some fun, and sneak in some learning, too!

Bike Ride for the Body and the Brain

  • First, have your child find a map of a local area that you would like to explore on your bikes. This is a great opportunity to help him understand distance and safe routes for biking.
  • Next, do a quick safety check of your bike.
  • Have your child read the map and use the legend to determine distances.
  • Next, have him estimate the amount of time he thinks it will take to bike the route. Estimation is a great math tool that is useful beyond the classroom. Your child will be having fun learning math, and not even realize it!
  • Be sure that you or your child time your ride together. You can even use Map My Ride to log your route.
  • Now, have your child compare his estimate with the actual amount of time it took to bike the route he planned.

Use this activity all summer long. Ride different routes each time.  Your child’s estimation skills will improve with each ride.

 

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Top Active Toys for Kids to Earn this Summer

Ogo Disk Mezo *

The summer months are a great time to get the kids active and enjoy the beautiful weather! Maybe you have a child who is naturally motivated to be active, explore and play outdoors, while other children require a little more inspiration. Either way, active play is tremendously important for a child’s emotional and physical well-being. Here are 10 fun outdoor toys that are great incentives to consider for your child to earn this summer by completing assigned learning challenges on cwist.com.

Not only does active play encourage the ability to solve problems while building muscle strength and coordination, but from a sensory motor perspective, 20 minutes of  physical activity can also have a positive impact on the length of time a child is able to pay attention to an activity that directly follows. Hoping your child has more energy to work their CWIST project or their reading log? 20 minutes of active play prior may make all the difference.

*OgoDisk Mezo - These discs are like little mini-trampolines for balls and water balloons. Using the included OgoSoft looped ball, which is similar to a Koosh ball, solo players can use the disk to see how many times they can bounce it up and down repeatedly, inventing all sorts of new tricks while working on their eye-hand coordination. By involving a friend or a sibling, the discs work just like a frisbee, or a nice safe alternative to a baseball bat or tennis racket. OgoDisks are portable and easy to travel with, making them great outdoor play options in the yard, beach, playground or park.

Eagle Series Zip Line with Seat - Do your kids love the zip line at the playground? Did you know you could have a 90 foot zip line for your yard?  Recommended for kids ages 7 and up, this particular zip line includes a comfort grip and an attached seat.  Kids will have a blast zooming from one location to the next in the yard, just make sure to provide a helmet and supervision for safety. 

Eagle Series Zip Line

Light Up Big Bang Rocket - Using small, square shaped pieces of recycled newspaper secured in the top of the rocket, kids then swing their arms in a circular motion, release the rocket and when the nose hits the ground, “Bang!” There is also a built-in light to find the rocket for kids who enjoy playing at night in the yard, at the beach or on a camping trip. 

X-zylo Air Rider - Do your kids like to play catch? The Air Rider can be thrown underhand, over hand, or even by it’s tail. Make sure you have space and room to run, this toy can fly up to 150 feet! 

*Spooner Board - Missing the snow in summer, or ever wondered what it felt like to go sledding, surfboarding or skateboarding? Spooner boards, which function similar to a snowboard or skateboard, can be used anywhere, even on grass and dirt. Children may love the thrill of the ride or enjoy using their creativity to learn and perform various tricks. Depending upon a child’s height, there are different sized boards available. A helmet is suggested for safety.

Swing Ball - Did you ever play tether ball? With Swing Ball, using 2 innovative paddles, players can bat the attached tennis ball to another player, or practice their own moves by playing against themselves in this fast-action hand-eye coordination game. 

*Magic Moves Jammin Gym - Many children have selective hearing when their parents send them outside to play or exercise, which can result in a series, of lots of whining and “I don’t want to.”  Don’t worry, the Jammin Gym toy, could take that stress away. This dumbbell shaped toy encourages kids to follow directions, then partake in all sorts of fun movement exercises and opportunities. Children can play by themselves or complete the moves in a dance party format with their friends. 

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Jammin’ Gym *

*Flight PogoStick  - People have been playing and exercising outside with pogo sticks since the early 1900’s! Newly designed pogosticks, such as this one appeal to both amateurs and professionals, given that they provide a lot more air with smoother bouncing. The Flight pogo stick is recommended for ages 9 and up, between 80-180 pounds. Supervision and a helmet is required for safety.  

Lil Rollerblades - Heading to a bike trail or beach boardwalk? Kids ages 2-5 can cruise the path safely, with speed. This in-line self-adjusting skate set arrives with a helmet, elbow pads, wrist guards and a backpack to store them in. (I picked the medium pink one) 

Quad Rider - Beep, beep! It’s hard to find a child who isn’t enthralled by a battery operated ride-on toy that they can maneuver and control by themselves through the yard and on the driveway. This particular power toy with a working horn and lights, moves forward and backward at speeds up to 2 miles per hour. It’s recommended for kids ages 3-6 who are under 66 lbs. 

Toys referenced with an * support  the nonprofit KaBOOM!, the national nonprofit dedicated to giving kids the childhood they deserve by bringing play and playgrounds to those who need it most.  With every purchase of an item in the KaBOOM! Go Out and Play Collection by cwist toy partner, imaginetoys.com, you are helping support KaBOOM! to achieve its goal of ALL children getting the play they need.

About the Author

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Keriann Wilmot, a passionate toy enthusiast, began her career as a pediatric occupational therapist 15 years ago. She could have never predicted the profound impact that toys and the role of play would have in helping children achieve developmental milestones in such fun, natural ways. Several years ago, in an effort to help all parents find toys that their children would enjoy playing with, Keri began incorporating toy recommendations and other helpful play hints into her personal website. Many people know her as the “ToyQueen!” Keri has also been providing toy related to content as the Toys Expert at About.com   since July 2011.

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Make a Fish Bowl with Dr. Suess

Dr. Seuss books are classics that are fun to read for all ages. Babies and preschoolers love them! But older kids can get in on the fun, too. One of the best activities is seeing who can read Dr. Seuss books the fastest. Many are tongue twisters and it’s fun to make racing games out of the silly words!

Another fun way to get your children more involved in reading is to make books into arts and crafts activities. Dr. Seuss’ One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish is the perfect inspiration for making your very own fish bowl art.

Make a Fish Bowl!

Make a Fish Bowl!

Here’s what you’ll need to get your children started: white paper, colored construction paper, scissors, blue food coloring, bowl, spoon, paint brush, and corn syrup.

  • First, read One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, or watch this fun video of authors reading the book.
  • Next, have your child use the white paper and draw out a big fish bowl. Help them cut it out.
  • Using the colored paper, your child can draw out and cut as many fish as he can. Try to make enough fish to fill up the whole fish bowl. (You can work in a little math here, and have him count his fish and separate them by color or size.)
  • Pour a little corn syrup and a little food coloring into a bowl.  Mix them well, and use the paintbrush to paint the fish bowl.
  • Once the bowl is painted, your child can stick all of the fish into the bowl. The syrup is sticky, so there is no need for glue!

Save activities like the one above for those really hot or really rainy days when your family has to be inside by logging (or signing up — it’s free!) into cwist.com, clicking “cwists” and adding it to “my favorites.” There are always educational opportunities during the summer. Sometimes you just have to make learning fun!

#summerlearningstartshere

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FREE Saturday Science All Summer Long!

Get FREE Summer Science Activities Every Saturday this Summer!

Sign Up and we’ll send you three amazingly fun science activitiies every Saturday this summer.

FREE Summer Science Activities Every Saturday this Summer!

#summerlearningstarts here

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Learn Your Town’s History with an Urban Photo Hunt!

Summertime means different things to different families, but we most all of us agree that hot summer days and long summer nights mean more time outside! Going to the pool, day camps, and playing in the backyard are all great ways to get out some energy and enjoy time with family and friends. But don’t limit yourself to these basic summer activities. Your children have the opportunity to learn more about their city and its history during the summer months. By making learning fun, they won’t even realize they are exercising their brains during their time off from school.

An Urban Photo Hunt will get your family out of its comfort zone and outside exploring and learning. There are endless educational opportunities for your children with a photo hunt. They can learn all about shapes, sizes, architecture, history, and government by exploring their city with this urban photo hunt CWIST.

Learn your town's history by searching for clues and taking photos!

Learn your town’s history by searching for clues and taking photos!

  • First, your children will need the scavenger hunt list. You can use this list, or create your own. If your city has some unique history or architectural features, include some more specific items in your hunt. Remember to cater it to your child’s age.
  • Next, have a camera (or even a camera phone) plus a pen or pencil to mark off items as they are found.
  • Before you head out into the city, go over the list with your children. Reading the list thoroughly allows them to work on their reading comprehension skills as well as their memory skills.
  • Now get out into the city! Set up a time limit. You can make this a competition, or divide children up into teams in order to work on team building.
  • Once you’re back home, print out some of the photos from your Urban Photo Hunt.
  • Keep the fun going by having your children make a collage of their favorite photos. Ending with an arts and crafts activity can be a great way to wind down and talk about what they’ve learned.
  • Let them present the collage to other members of the family. Chances are, you can all learn something new about your city!

#summerlearningstartshere

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Sweet Treats Make Learning Math Fun!

Our children love a sweet treat every once in awhile. Well, maybe more often than that! But what if you could turn that afternoon ice cream or lemonade treat into an educational opportunity and teach some yummy math?   We are always finding ways to turn simple activities into learning opportunities from the parents and educators who contribute to the CWIST library of math challenges.

Learning fractions can be difficult. But most math problems can be better understood when your children can use tangible objects. Make learning math fun. Once they finish this CWIST challenge, they will have a better understanding of fractions, and have a sweet reward to eat! Fractions You Can Eat is a great hands-on activity. To begin this CWIST challenge, your child will need a box of ice cream sandwiches, Cool Whip, a chocolate bar, a jar of chocolate fudge, fruit juice (of your choice), lemons, and sugar.

lemonade math

Part 1: Ice Cream Cake

  • If your children need some culinary inspiration, they can always listen to the book Duck Soup before they begin. Once they’re ready to cook, you can sneak in some learning!
  • Have your children unwrap half of the box of ice cream sandwiches. Here, they will have to understand what one half means. Here’s a quick video that will help them learn.
  • Start layering your ice cream cake. Place the ice cream sandwiches in a 9×13 baking dish. Spread about half of the fudge sauce over the sandwiches. You can add some cookies or other treats to this layer.
  • Next, spread half of the Cool Whip and one more layer of sandwiches. Spread the remaining fudge sauce and Cool Whip on top.
  • Check how well your children used fractions for each step in the process, then enjoy the sweet rewards together.

Part 2: Lemonade

  • Have your child gather six lemons. Cut them in half for your child. You can use this opportunity to talk about knife safety in the kitchen. Once cut, ask your child to count the pieces of lemon.
  • For the rest of this CWIST challenge, follow this yummy homemade lemonade recipe.
  • Your children will learn how to measure using sugar and measuring cups and have a refreshing summer drink to boot.

Part 3: Popsicles

  • With this CWIST,challenge your child will learn how to work with fractions and cool off on those hot summer days.
  • Introduce your child to the concept of halves and quarters as you make ice cube tray popsicles and watch this video for popsicle-making instructions.

All this cooking and learning will be so rewarding as your family enjoys these sweet treats! Plus, your children can use their new knowledge of fractions to help you measure and cook your family meals this summer!   #summerlearningstartshere

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Get Outside to Make Learning Science Fun!

Summertime is a great time of year to get outside and explore nature and make it about science fun!. Whether your children are already interested in science or not, the great outdoors can get them motivated to learn more about nature. Creating a simple and earth-friendly bird feeder can be a great educational opportunity for your children to learn about different species of birds as well as working on their observational skills and patience.

The hand of a kid touching a wild bird

The great thing about this fun outdoor CWIST is that your kids will have fun learning about science while exploring the outdoors.

Bread Bird Feeder

  • First, your child will need a few supplies: Dried bread, peanut butter, yarn or string, bird seed, and a knife.
  • Poke a small hole in each piece of bread. Be sure not to put the hole too near the edge or the bread will break.
  • Spread the peanut butter onto one or both sides of the bread.
  • Gently press bird seed onto the peanut butter.
  • Using the yarn or string, hang your bread bird feeder onto a tree near other branches so that the birds have easy access.
  • Talk about how this bird feeder is earth-friendly. Explain that you are using simple ingredients and there will be little to no waste when you are finished.
  • Next, take some time each day to observe the birds visiting your bird feeder. Check out National Geographic’s bird identifier to learn more about these species.

Science can be one of the most difficult subjects to teach our children, but using crafts for kids can be a great way to get their brains working!  Making this bird feeder is an excellent start to get them observing nature in their very own backyards!

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Fun Kids Activities to Help Kids Make Good Food Choices

Childhood obesity has nearly doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years. This is a sad statistic for any parent to read. However, summer is here, and we have some great summer learning activities that encourage kids to get and stay healthy on CWIST.  These fun activities teach kids to make healthy choices and are the perfect tools to help your children learn about nutrition while staying active and — yes! even practice math and reading skills.

  • Teaching your children about healthy nutrition can start at a young age. Alphabet, Art and Nutrition is an arts and crafts activity for kids who want to learn about produce while practicing their ABCs. Your child will name each vegetable or piece of fruit, and tell what letter each begins with. Then he will paint a picture for each letter. This CWIST even includes fun healthy recipes for you to make yummy snacks with the leftover produce.

    Which one would your child choose?

    Which one would your child choose?

  • Staying active plays an important role in keeping children healthy. That’s why we offer tons of fun games to play as a family that will keep you and your child moving. After all, what’s the point of educational games for kids if they’re not fun, too? Beach Ball Nutrition is a great blend of learning and active fun. In this game, the adult will blow up a beach ball, and draw various fruits and vegetables on random places around the ball. Start some fun music and toss, kick, and punch the beach ball back and forth until the music stops. Whichever fruit or vegetable is closest to your child’s right thumb will be the one that she gets to answer a series of questions about. The questions are provided for you in the CWIST activity. At the end, you can encourage her to try some new foods from the beach ball. This activity is a fun way to get picky eaters to try something new.
  • Learning about healthy food choices can entail so much more than just learning about food. Measuring Up Nutrition is a fun way to engage children who love cooking, while learning fractions too! This CWIST walks your child through the steps of making your favorite healthy muffin recipe, and it teaches him how to measure fractions. Education starts by giving children the power to do things on their own. Teaching your little one about healthy recipes will set him up to make good food choices later in life. Oh yeah, and it doesn’t hurt to polish those much needed math skills at the same time.

You can choose many different contexts when deciding how you want to educate your child about nutrition. The important thing is to choose educational games and fun activities that keep your child interested and wanting to know more. This summer is the perfect time to start teaching your children about how to make good nutritional choices. Don’t forget to encourage them to get outside and play for at least 30 minutes a day this summer too.

#summerlearningstartshere

 

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Summer Activities that Inspire a Love of Reading

Summer is a wonderful time to relax and take a break. However, many young kids choose to focus more than ever on their newly acquired reading skills, and may find it a relaxing way to spend their free time. These children look at the summer as the perfect time to absorb as many stories as possible. Does this sound like your child? If so, then you’ll be able to keep him busy with these fun summer activities for kids who love reading. You might want to start preparing now for a lot of trips to your local library.

One of the all-time greatest stories for children is Charlotte’s WebLuckily, there is a wonderful CWIST which will introduce your child to this classic novel. This CWIST not only introduces your child to a classic book, but it will also check his reading comprehension with fun writing activities and quizzes. There’s a wealth of fun and storytelling to be found in this great book. It may not  be easy for your child to read through this book, but challenges can make learning fun!

A beloved Classic by E.B. White makes a classic summer reader.

A beloved Classic by E.B. White makes a classic summer reader.

The Slave Who Learned to Read is a great way to get your child’s summer reading started. This CWIST will also introduce her to some history. Frederick Douglass was known as “the slave who learned to read.” This activity will help teach your child the power of reading and writing has to change the world and her own life. Your child will read about Frederick Douglass’ life and then answer some questions about him. This CWIST effectively uses Douglass’ life to help your child look at reading as the powerful tool that it is. Pairing fun activities for kids to complete after each book is a great way to help verify reading comprehension.

Your child can also enjoy free games for kids who love to read on CWIST.  Search for the Dr. Suess-inspired CWIST games that will help your child keep her nose in a book all summer. Is your child still learning the alphabet? The Dr. Suess ABC Book CWIST will keep even the youngest readers busy with a fun arts and craft activities.

Search through the huge selection of summer reading games and activities for kids on CWIST. There you’ll find of fun educational opportunities for kids of any age, as well as in our FREE Summer Activities E-book here.

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